[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Tuesday voted 13-6 to recommend the confirmation [hearing materials] of Sonia Sotomayor [WH profile; JURIST news archive] for the Supreme Court [official website]. All 12 Democrats on the committee and one Republican voted in favor of the recommendation. In a statement [text] praising Sotomayor, committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] applauded her experience and dismissed allegations of prejudice:
Judge Sotomayor is well qualified; one need look no further than her experience, ability, temperament and judgment. The President nominated a person with more Federal judicial experience than any nominee in the last 100 years. He nominated someone with Federal trial judge experience and someone who was a prosecutor.
As her record and her testimony before the Committee reinforced, she is a restrained, fair and impartial judge who applies the law to the facts to decide cases. Ironically, the few decisions for which she has been criticized are cases in which she did not reach out to change the law or defy judicial precedent – in other words, cases in which she refused to "make law" from the bench.
In his statement [text], Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) [official website] explained his vote against Sotomayor, saying he still thought she brought bias and a judicial philosophy he opposed to the court:
Let me emphasize that I like Judge Sotomayor and believe she is a good person. I would like to be able to support her nomination. I believe, however, that a nominee’s approach to judging is more important than her resume, especially on the Supreme Court where Justices operate with the fewest constraints. Each nominee comes to the Senate with her own record, and it is that record that we must examine for clues about her judicial philosophy. Judge Sotomayor’s speeches and articles outline a troubling judicial philosophy which her appeals court cases, hearing testimony, and answers to post-hearing written questions do not neutralize.
The full Senate is scheduled to debate Sotomayor's nomination next week.
Support for Sotomayor in the Senate has approximated party lines with Jeff Sessions (R-AL) [official website] saying he would vote against her [JURIST report] on Monday. Last week, the committee delayed the vote [JURIST report] to send her nomination for consideration by the full Senate. Earlier this month, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary [association website] gave Sotomayor a unanimous "well-qualified" rating [letter, PDF; JURIST report]. In May, Sessions said that he did not anticipate a filibuster [JURIST report] against Sotomayor's nomination. Obama nominated Sotomayor in May to replace retiring [JURIST reports] Justice David Souter [official profile, PDF; JURIST news archive].